`brusque’

Pronunciation: There are different ways of pronouncing this word. The Americans pronounce the `u’ like the `u’ in `cut’, `hut’, and `but’, while the British pronounce it like the `oo’ in `cool’, `fool’, and `pool’. The final `que’, in both cases, is pronounced like the `sk’ in `mask’, `task’, and `flask’. When you say that someone’s behaviour is `brusque’, what you mean is that the person is rather curt — in other words, rude or rough. The person doesn’t say much, but when he speaks, he sounds rude.

Example: Don’t worry! I’m not going to be put off by his brusque replies.

The word `brusque’ comes from the Italian `brusco’ meaning `sour’ or `sharp’. The same word was also used to refer to a prickly plant (`butcher’s broom’). Perhaps it was in this sense that `brusque’ was used when it was borrowed into English — someone as disagreeable as the butcher’s broom.

Source: ‘Know Your English’ ( The Hindu) – Mar 12, 2007

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